Monday, July 7, 2014

Some Stitch Outs

I don't do a whole lot of machine embroidery, but I really love a lot of the patterns from urban threads. When I saw their Arts/Craft ambigram, I knew I had to snag it.  I've alwasy been intrigued by ambigrams, especially ones that read both ways (upside down and right side up) but don't say the same thing.  On an ambigram aside, does anyone remember the ones in the Dan Brown book Angels and Demons?

Anyway, the other day I was burying about a million threads on my quilt, and thought I might just as well babysit the embroidery machine at the same time, so I stitched this one out.  I made two t-shirts, black with gold and purple for me, and blue with blue and green for my mom.  The stitch outs went well as long as I remembered to keep the rest of the shirt out of the way!

And a gratuitous dog shot, because we all need one of those now and again!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Swap Parcel: Recieved

A little while back I shared the stitchery I made for the Places swap at &Stitches, and today I'm back to share the lovely parcel sent to me by my partner Emily.  In addition to her piece, she sent me a really nice long letter telling me all about the place she depicted as well as other areas where she lives.  It's really wonderful to hear about a new place from someone to whom it's so important.

She currently lives in Brighton, on the southern coast of England and says:  "...but in the end I went with somewhere out of town a bit and more in the countryside: The South Downs, or more specifically the Seven Sisters.  The South Downs are a collection of chalk hills which extend all the way to Brighton (I can see them from my house) but depicted in my embroidery are specifically the chalk cliffs on the coast that make up the Seven Sisters.  In the foreground also depicted are the coastguards' cottages.  I chose this scene in the end not only because of their fame and beauty, but also because I feel a scene depicting nature is more connected to who I am and what I like to draw/embroider."

I looked up some pictures of the Seven Sisters, and it looks like an absolutely gorgeous place to live.  How wonderful to have that as a view.  No wonder Emily wanted to embroider it and share it with me.  I was super impressed with her tiny even stitches and ability to capture the feel of the place.

One final coincidence:  I just finished a quilt based on the seven sisters quilt block, so it's especially fun that she embroidered the real Seven Sisters for me!

Thank you so much Emily, you were a great swap partner!

Friday, June 13, 2014

New Project and Jane Sassaman Class

Back in April my mom and I went to a five day Empty Spools seminar with Jane Sassaman.  Her class was really fabulous, all about abstracting from nature, and it was wonderful to learn her design approach.  Her graphic abstract floral quilts are really outstanding and seeing them in person was remarkable.  We spent the first day and a half just drawing, sketching, and abstracting from our drawings.  Drawing has never been one of my strengths, so forcing myself through the exercise and acknowledging how much I learned from the process reminds me that it can really be a valuable tool for understanding what I see.

Of course we were all working on our own designs, and the plant/flower I chose was the yucca. Going in I wanted to work with metallics, and I thought the gold/warm feeling of the desert and yuccas would really go well with that idea.  Jane's design process (which we were learning in the class) is much more organic than mine usually is- definitely not a draw-out-the-whole-composition-at-the-beginning approach.  Here are a few in progress shots of what I was working on.

That backing fabric is some sort of soft shimmery polyester looking light brown fabric with wrinkles part of the fabric itself.  I love the texture it has.  Metallic fabric in general is so hard to photograph, I included the shot above because you can really see the glow from the gold lame accent leaves.

I've spent a bunch of time in the last few months auditioning different arrangements, and recently settled on what you see below (which I then stitched down).  The top isn't quite finished, there are a few more flower buds to be added at the tops of each stem.

The funny bubbles in the background are where the fabric isn't quite stuck to the interfacing.  They won't be there after quilting.  One of my biggest struggles with this project was the appliqueing.  I usually use raw edge applique or a sort of appli-piecing combo I learned from Caryl Fallert. Jane appliques all her pieces (some raw edge some turned) with a satin or decorative stitch, and all her work is so perfect!  Lots of my satin stitch really looks terrible- not smooth and even. Alas, I'm not sure I can do anything about it, so it may just have to be a practice-practice-practice or a different-technique-next-time situation.

One of Jane's working guidelines for abstracting from nature is "Twice as big, half as many" which I had a really hard time with, but I did try!

Let me know if you have any thoughts on the overall composition, its something I really struggled with and am not opposed to continuing to work on if anyone has any great suggestions.

Linking up with Nina-Marie as always!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

&Stitches Embroidery Swap

I'm a big fan of Carina from Carina's craftblog and &Stitches so when the &Stitches team organized an embroidery swap I had to sign up.  It could be any type of hand embroidery, and the theme was places.  Of course one of my very favorite places is my home mountain, Sierra Blanca, which you may remember from this quilt.  I'm also a big fan of Judith Baker Montano's fabulous free-form embroidery, and since I have her book I thought I'd try out some of her techniques.  I didn't have time for anything nearly as intricate and layered as her work, but I think this was a nice first try!

Since I knew I wouldn't be able to fill in the whole canvas, I started with a picture taken during a summer hike to Sierra Blanca peak.  I think it was my birthday weekend of 2003.  This shot was snapped right before the push up the last little part, after hiking to the top of the ski area.

I printed it out on a transparency and then monoprinted it on interfacing-backed muslin as I described here.  It gives a pleasingly imperfect look, quite different from that which you get printing directly on fabric with the printer (although I do that too).  For this project, where I was going to embroider over some but not all, I wanted the more textured look which comes from the monoprinting.
After monoprinting, before stitching.

Then I just started embroidering away!  It isn't completely filled in but I had lots of fun.  I used regular embroidery floss, perle cotton, and wool, and several different stitches.

To finish, I layered it around matboard (with a single layer of supporting batting to fill it out a bit) and popped it into a frame.  The back has a label telling about it and the picture.

I'm really a novice embroiderer, so I had no idea what would be expected for this swap, but I like the way this turned out and I hope my partner does too!

Sierra Blanca, 2014, Shannon Conley, 9x12

Friday, May 30, 2014

Rainbow over the Seven Sisters

After several years in my UFO pile, my rainbow star project is finished.  The official name is Rainbow over the Seven Sisters since the center of the medallion is the seven sisters block.  I've blogged about it before, but a short recap-  the center is all hand pieced, and the border is machine pieced.  The quilting is all 100 wt. silk thread, and I resisted the urge to quilt-to-death.  The quilting features secondary star rays extending into the background, and I was sort of sorry that the quilting in the darker colors (red/blue/purple) didn't show up as well on the background as I'd hoped.  Also, most unfortunately, the red fabrics bled, so there are a bunch of red stains on the white fabrics. Seeing the stains irritates me every time I see them, but I guess it's my own fault.  I should know by now to pre-wash, especially dark intense hand-dyes.  It's 20" square, and I'm pleased it's finished!

Rainbow over the Seven Sisters, 2014, 20 x 20, Shannon Conley

Linking up with Nina-Marie and Richard and Tanya and Quilt Story!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ring Bearer Pillows

Just a heads up for anyone who hasn't seen it already, it's voting time in the Blogger's Quilt Festival!  You should definitely head over and check it out!

My dog quilt is in the Art category, and Ring Around the Mole is in the Home Machine Quilted category.

Today I just wanted to share a little crafty project from a few months ago; my friend Linda from work was getting married and asked if I could help her make some ring pillows.  She found two she liked, I think they're from Martha Stewart's site, and one afternoon we whipped them up.  

Her fantastic wedding photographer Jaime Tardiff from Aptera Studios sent me these pictures to post.  It's so cool to have professional photos!

Congrats to Linda and John!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bloggers Quilt Festival: The Dogs

Welcome to those who are clicking through from the Blogger's Quilt Festival!  Many thanks to Amy for hosting and organizing it all.  I'm entering two quilts, this one is in the Art Quilt category.

These are based on my photographs of the dogs which were digitally manipulated and then printed on fabric.  They were heavily threadpainted, then each panel was quilted individually (on my Janome 7700).  The background is a whole separate quilt, in which silhouettes of the dogs are thread sketched via bobbin quilting in the background. The remainder of the background was free motion quilted.  Each quilted dog portrait is mounted on the background by stitching only the top edge down, so the panels hang freely.  To see more posts about this project, click on the Dog Portrait tag.

The label text reads:  

"The Dogs"  Bullett, Missy, and Pumpkin.  Now there are four and Pumpkin is gone but they are all always in our hearts.

At some point I'll have to do a project incorporating the new two (Bentley and Shooter), but for now these three are staring out at me, filled with personality.

The Dogs.  c. Shannon Conley, 2013, 29"x 49"




Be sure to check out all the other wonderful Blogger's Quilt Festival entries, and thanks for stopping by!

Bloggers Quilt Festival: Ring Around the Mole

Welcome to anyone clicking through from the always fabulous Bloggers Quilt Festival.  Super shout out to Amy for hosting and organizing it all!  I'm entering two quilts, this one in the Home Machine Quilted category.

It's called "Ring Around the Mole", and is an original design I made using primarily adobe illustrator.  It features one or more mammals from each order/superorder represented in Oklahoma (the state where I live).  My mom came up with the name and it really struck my fancy.  Not least because the moles are the hardest animal to identify so I think having them in the title really helps.

Ring Around the Mole, Shannon M. Conley, c. 2014 62" x 62"

This is the label.

In twelve-days-of-Christmas fashion, there are:

32 bats
20 armadillos
20 prairie dogs
16 opossums (with 64 baby opossums)
16 mice
12 rabbits
8 moles
4 bison
4 deer
4 bobcats
4 coyotes
(but no partridges or pears....)

The quilt is constructed entirely from apparel fabrics.  The only 100% cotton fabric used was for the backing.  It's mostly different silks and polyesters in all kinds of weaves including velvets, and some weird microsuedes (which I think are also polyester).  I also painted and used some evolon, a non-woven stuff that feels gross but looks pretty cool and is easy to work with.  The white/ivory background is a polyester bridal satin.

Each animal has a beaded eye, except the mice who have thread eyes, and the moles who have no eyes at all.  Even the bats each have two little black bead eyes you just can't see in the picture.

The quilt contains two layers of batting, one layer of cotton and one layer of wool.  It was all free motion quilted on my janome horizon 7700 home sewing machine.  All the background quilting is 100 wt. YLI silk thread (if only I could afford more of this).  The quilting on the animals is mostly 40 wt polyester (glide and isacord are my favorites).  It was actually quilted twice- the first time the animals were quilted with only the top and a single layer of batting.  Then I layered the second layer of batting an backing and quilted the rest.  This way, the animals puff in a faux-trapunto way, but still have thread quilted detailing.

The final quilt is 62 x 62 and is finished with a facing contoured with the shape of the bats.

View of the back.

This was been a fairly emotional and draining project for me, and I learned a lot about things and ways of doing things that I want to avoid in future.   I really hope you enjoy seeing it!  Many thanks to my dad Doug for taking all the pictures, it's a really hard quilt to photograph.

For more info on this quilt, check out my other posts on it, and be sure to check out all the other Blogger's quilt festival entries!